The first blog post I had ever written for this blog scared me senseless. I knew the material after years assisting Expert Authors and leading an incredible group of editors, but that first post … I stared a blank screen. I wrote a few lines, deleted them, wrote a few lines, deleted them, and continued repeating the cycle. I checked email and caught up on a few other projects. When Penny hinted at my approaching deadline for it, I finally locked the door to my office and churned out one of the worst drafts I’ve likely ever written in my life.
But that’s okay! It’s just the first draft, so who cares?! The first draft is always the toughest, but it didn’t defeat me and it certainly doesn’t have to defeat you. Through confiding in Penny and getting feedback from other writers, it dawned on me, like many of you may have experienced when you began writing or are experiencing right now:
It’s not your skills getting in the way of your first draft. It’s your confidence in your writing that’s holding you back.
Here are 15 ways you can give your writing confidence a shot in the arm to get through any period of doubt and back into the writing saddle.
15 Ways to Boost Your Confidence in Your Writing
- Read: Besides the obvious keeping the pulse on the world and expanding your knowledge base, reading is like immersing yourself in the laboratories of other writers. You learn their discoveries, shadow their experiments, and can use that knowledge to experiment in your own writing as well.
- Write Every Day: In a journal, spend at least 10 minutes every day free writing – ignore spelling, grammar, or even staying on topic; write whatever is on your mind for 10 minutes. This will help pave the way to write more throughout your day.
- Write with Abandon: In the film world, the “one take wonder” is an incredibly rare thing. Altering this and that, film crews shoot take after take to get what they need. The same is true for writing. You will not have the perfect draft on the first take. Let your first draft be terrible and improve upon it later.
- Understand the Language: Often the most intimidating part of writing is grammar and style. Treat grammar like a skill you would acquire for any trade: understand the technicalities (such as apostrophes and rein in ellipses), develop your style, and find your tone.
- Be Reasonable: Don’t write as fast as you can to “get it over with.” You’ll only stunt your growth. You know the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Take your time with your writing, so you can grow. You’ll improve your speed as you improve your skill set.
- Re-Motivate: Feel like you’ve gone so far off your original path that you lack the motivation to write? Was it to help others? Was it to share your enthusiasm? Go back to the source and find the real reason why you began writing. Alternately, your reasons for writing may have changed over time – whatever it is find out why you want to write and renew your passion for writing.
- Connect With People: Avoid isolating yourself and gain a support network – whether composed of other writers or simply those who support you in your writing endeavors. Use the creative energy that you gain from reaching out to other people and feed it into your writing.
- Be Open to Feedback: Many writers cringe at the idea of submitting their precious work for a critique. Find someone you trust (who will be unbiased and honest) to provide suggestions for improvement as well as what they liked or disliked.
- Talk About It: Tell friends, family, peers, and even your fans about your current writing projects. Get their input and more importantly, share your enthusiasm. This will help you believe in your writing. That said, know when it’s time to stop talking and start writing.
- Be Okay With the Flow: Writers often get a bad reputation for being wildly exuberant or compulsively frenetic. Go with your flow. If you go through crazy productive streaks of writing, then ride it. Just remember to get out and connect with others to avoid isolation.
- Think of Editing Positively: Writers will often treat editing like they’re sending their article to the dentist to drill and fill dozens of cavities. Treat editing like you’re sending the article to the spa: a massage for formatting, a manicure for the introduction, a pedicure for the conclusion, etc.
- Improve Your Focus: If you can’t sit down without distractions, it may be possible that you are perpetuating those distractions. Identify those habits that steal your time and then adjust your routine. Accommodate the distraction (such as schedule 10 minutes to check your email before you sit down to write) or eliminate it altogether.
- Believe You Can Write: You can be your worst critic. Stop beating yourself up each time you hit a writing roadblock. Cultivate your skills, find the right tools, and get feedback, but above all: believe in your ability to write. You’re not going to succeed in writing unless you believe you can.
- Write What You Love: There’s the old adage, “Write what you know,” but what if what really makes you want to passionately write for hours on end is based on discovering what you don’t know? Toss that old cliché. Write about what motivates you and interests you because that passion will help you build confidence in your writing.
- Overcome the Fear: What are you waiting for? Publish your articles. There’s that moment before you hit submit, where risk and reward intermingle. Our IT developers here call it “The Fear.” When you’ve crossed all of your t’s and dotted your i’s, but you still have that hairy feeling like you missed something. It’s better to take the risk and try than to never submit. Once you’ve developed a process and a rapport with your editors, it gets much easier.
Bonus! Use Article Templates: Staring at a blank page and not knowing where to start can dampen your spirits. If you need help with a writing idea or you’re not sure what type of content structure you should use, writing prompts like the Article Templates improve your spirits immensely.
Have you ever struggled with your writing confidence? How did you get through it? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!